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Democracy Reform: Propositions & Ballot Initiatives. Jenna Spinelle

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This episode is inspired by the recent podcast series, “When The People Decide“, from The McCourtney Institute for Democracy. The show’s producer, writer, and host, Jenna Spinelle, tells the stories of some remarkable people who have organized initiative campaigns across the country. We speak with her about the history of ballot measures, including California’s Prop 13 in 1978, and more recent efforts to expand Medicaid.

Ballot initiatives are “a very powerful tool that citizens have, particularly when there is broad support for change to an existing policy or law”, Jenna tells us. Over the past four decades in California and elsewhere the political establishment has been frequently shaken by the results.

In this episode, we hear about the story of Desmond Meade, the voting rights activist who led a winning ballot initiative to change Florida’s constitution to give people like him — with past felony convictions — the right to vote. Desmond is Executive Director of The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the campaign that resulted in America’s largest expansion of voting rights since the civil rights era.

We also speak about Katie Fahey, the democracy activist who led the successful grassroots effort to ban partisan gerrymandering in Michigan. At “Voters Not Politicians”, she organized thousands of volunteers who collected over 425,000 voter signatures for Proposal 2, a ballot initiative amending the state constitution to create an independent redistricting commission. We also spoke at length with Katie in episode #262.

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